January 28, 2008

How To Lose A Customer In Three Easy Steps!

  1. Sell faulty software.

  2. Assume that your customer is a criminal.

  3. Refuse to accept a return of faulty software.

A lot of retail stores have the official policy of not accepting returns of opened software because they are afraid that people will just copy the software and return it. While this is a valid concern, I have a very big problem with a store automatically assuming that I am a criminal. In fact, a lot of stores don't even actively enforce this policy too hard. I've returned open software to places like CompUSA, EB Games, and GameStop in the past when I have had problems. But Best Buy seems to have adopted the policy that the customer can not be trusted.

The incident in that linked article is a bit more mind-blowing in terms of audacity, but my personal incident is no less offensive (at least in my mind). Yesterday, I used part of a Best Buy gift card that I received for Christmas to purchase the Myst 10th Anniversary Edition. I am not linking this particular product because I don't want anyone to actually end up buying it. This product states on the box that it is XP and OSX compatible, but this claim is false, and the distribution of this software is borderline (if not outright) fraud. I do not blame Best Buy for this part; the onus of software quality is pretty much entirely on UbiSoft, a company which has had previous quality issues with their use of Starforce copy protection. It was so bad that it landed them in court.

But this particular product didn't use Starforce, and my computer more than met the minimum specifications, so I thought I would be safe. Wrong. Based on what I have read online, almost no one can get this to run on a Windows XP machine even after uninstalling the most recent version of Quicktime (which breaks iTunes) and reinstalling an older one and running under various compatibility settings. People are also having the same problem running the game in OSX, although I don't have a Mac so I'm not as familiar with the specifics. The thing is, two of the games in this collection pre-date Windows XP and Mac OSX, so they were not designed at the time of development to run on those operating systems. One would assume, given the system requirements on the box, that UbiSoft or Cyan had gone over the code and updated it to run on the most recent systems. This is apparently not the case.

After trying fruitlessly for several hours to get the game to work, I went back to Best Buy to return it. My conversation with the head customer service person went something like this:

Me: "I'd like to return this software. It will not run."

Best Buy Guy: "Ok, we can certainly exchange it for you..."

Me: "No, you don't understand. The software is faulty. You need to pull it from your shelves because it does not work. The system requirements on the box are wrong."1

BBG: (looking at box) "Well, we can't take this back, sir. This box is open."

Me: "I just bought this like two hours ago, and it doesn't work. Please take it back. I am planning to spend at least $3000 on a home theater in the next couple of weeks. Do you really want to lose that over a $20 piece of software?"

BBG: "That has nothing to do with this receipt, sir." (I almost burst out laughing at him when he said this.)

Me: "No, it has everything to do with this receipt. You just lost any future business."

As you can see, Best Buy will not be getting any more of my money. If I happen to get gift cards to the store as presents, I will use them, but I won't be purchasing Best Buy gift cards for anyone else or any more of their products. The problem with most consumers today is that they won't stand up for themselves when they are being wronged. Sure, I could write to Best Buy Corporate and get some freaking form letter apology in response, but that won't make them change. Neither will the $3000 in home theater sales and probably $10000+ of future business I would have given them, for that matter. Not as long as everyone else continues to bend over and let corporations treat them like crap. They exist because we allow them to. If enough people would grow a spine and say "enough is enough", the world would be a better place.

1When I originally bought the game, there were three copies on the shelf. Two of the three looked like they had been previously opened and then resealed, and now I can see why.


Matt said...

Could have used VMWare + Windows 98 to run the game.

Matt Silverthorn said...

I may still try that route at some point, but the points in my post remain valid.

Ryan said...

Do the games all install and run as a package? If not, which game in particular were you having a problem with? What version of the original Myst was included (original, masterpiece, realmyst)?

I've had good luck with myst 3-5 (although 5 doesn't have invert mouse...I actually had to retrain myself to not use invert mouse in ANY game to play it).

Matt Silverthorn said...

They are the original games, each on a separate DVD. Myst is the Masterpiece Edition.

Ryan said...

Follow on about the content of the post:

My Dad had a similar problem with a faulty cable he bought there and as such, he has also sworn off buying things at Best Buy whenever possible.

Fortunately, I don't have to deal with them anymore. Up here I do most of my "big box" electronics shopping at either London Drugs or Future Shop. Haven't had a problem with either of them yet.

These days I do the vast majority of my shopping online (ncix.com and tigerdirect.ca for those of you in Canada).

Ryan said...

Yeah I've had issues with Masterpiece on XP. I picked it up on ebay for $8 for Morgan and haven't been able to get it to run without crashing after 5 mouse clicks in game. I'd really like to pick up a copy of RealMyst.

Eric said...

my dad just returned a faulty dvd player to best buy. he was very pleasantly surprised when they took it back and gave him the full refund no questions asked. as we left the store, he even commented that the last time he tried to return something there, he got into a big argument and lost.

i guess it just depends on the mood of the guy working returns that day? and most days they're in a very bad mood.